Nobody likes probate proceedings because it takes time to complete, and it can represent an additional expense after your loved one dies. However, the probate process is usually going to be necessary and — to a certain extent — unavoidable. With a sound estate plan, you can bypass probate for some of your assets, but whatever remains of the estate itself may still need to go through probate proceedings.
If you’re about to begin this important legal process, you may want to review and understand the following steps:
Gather and catalog the property and debts of the person who died
You’ll need to make a list of all assets and debts that belong to the decedent. You’ll also want to gather your loved one’s property to determine exactly what the estate is going to involve.
Paying off debts, taxes and other claims
Next, you’ll need to use the property in the estate to pay off outstanding debts. In some cases, claims relating to the debts will be made after death. You’ll also need to settle taxes related to the decedent’s final income tax bill, as well as taxes owed by the estate for posthumous income earned after death.
Issues relating to the estate plan, will or dispensation of estate assets could arise and lead to a legal challenge or dispute. These disputes must be resolved before the estate assets can be distributed to heirs.
The final step involves the distribution of the property that remains to heirs.
Probate isn’t easy to navigate on your own, especially if it involves a sizable estate. If you need help carrying out the various tasks associated with probate, contact our law offices for support.